Toque of San Francisco August 2007
San Francisco Dining
By Carol & Joe Davis
We’ve really been enjoying the warm weather this summer! It has been perfect for outdoor dining which has included leisurely lunches and dinners all around the San Francisco Bay from Rutherford to San Francisco, and Oakland to Redwood City.
We recently had a perfect lunch in the Napa Valley at Auberge du Soleil. We were seated outdoors at a terrace table with a panoramic view at this truly wonderful world class Napa Valley Wine Country culinary destination. With over 35 wines by the glass to choose from and Executive Chef Robert Curry’s California cuisine with Mediterranean influences, it’s a food and wine lovers dream come true. We started out with a refreshing glass of the Auberge du Soleil Sparkling Wine as we perused the menu and enjoyed the view. Our first course was a delicious appetizer which consisted of Asparagus, ruby grapefruit, arugula, fennel and ricotta. The entrees we enjoyed were the Day Boat Scallops served with braised celery, ruby grapefruit, rye croutons, lemon sauce and the over the top… melt in your mouth Short Rib “Sandwich” with horseradish, shallot marmalade and fingerling potatoes. Dessert is an art that is taken as seriously as the cuisine. We loved the Verjus Roasted Apricots, lemon brioche, pistachio frangipane with noyau ice cream. Superior service, excellent cuisine with lovely presentation and a spectacular view makes Auberge du Soleil a must for dining.
The location on the Silverado Trail makes it a perfect destination while wine tasting. In fact, we also stopped nearby at a favorite boutique winery Wm. Harrison www.whwines.com where we tasted and purchased their fabulous Cabernet Sauvignon.
Auberge du Soleil
There are few dining experiences more San Franciscan then dining at Kuleto’s just off Union Square. The décor is upscale and the service is friendly yet crisp. We had a chance to meet Executive Chef Robert Helstrom who opened the restaurant twenty years ago. He is so happy to return after working on other projects for the past five years. He loved being able to hear first hand from people like us how we enjoyed our dining experience. We sat at a lovely table and started out by ordering San Benedetto Italian Sparkling Water and some wine. Our starters were delicious.
We loved the Fresh Baked Breads and the breadsticks which accompanied the Salami Mista which are House Cured Meats. We also enjoyed the Carpaccio di Tonno which was tasty thinly sliced Ahi tuna with horseradish aioli and Sausalito Springs watercress. Our favorite entrée was the Piccata di Vitello which is Veal Scaloppini with capers, garlic, spinach, lemon and white wine. A house signature that we liked was the Agnolotti di Salmone Affumicato which is smoked salmon filled pasta pillows with asparagus and lemon cream. We also enjoyed the Tagliata alla Griglia which is Grilled Creekstone Hanger Steak with curly spinach, fingerling potatoes and anchovy vinaigrette.
Save room for dessert as the Tiramisu-espresso rum soaked ladyfingers layered with Mascarpone and a double Espresso will complete this truly San Franciscan dining experience.
Kuleto’s Italian Restaurant
Historic Old Oakland continues to become a great downtown Oakland dining destination. B is the latest example of why you must go there. Chef Saman Javid is creating some excellent California Cuisine using local seasonal ingredients that are fresh from the Old Oakland Farmer’s market, as well as from other upscale and organic providers. We started out with Oysters on the half shell. We enjoyed both the Hama Hama which is a larger very tasty Washington State Oyster and the Beau Soleil Prince Edward Island which were fresh, light and sweeter. You must try the Klein Family Farms Grilled Asparagus with red Belgian endive, frisse, manchego and gribiche. We loved this appetizer and would return just to have it alone. The entrees that we enjoyed were the Skate Wing with Bloomsdale Spinach, Niman Ranch bacon, sweet potatoes puree and brown butter Hollandaise and the Coca Cola Braised Short Ribs with spring peas and red onions.
Don’t even think about not getting a side of the Truffled Fries made in white truffle oil with herbs and sea salt. They were the Best fries we’ve ever tasted…truly in a league of their own! They were so delicious and unique, accompanied by Garlic aioli and tangy catsup. Dessert is also a must as the Scented Strawberry Shortcake with mint, sherry and hand-whipped cream was outstanding. B has delicious cuisine, a hip downtown Old Oakland location, stylish interior, and right sized portions that are right priced. We’ll be back very soon.
Burlingame continues to grow as a Dining destination. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at Nectar which is a chic comfortable Restaurant and Wine Bar. You can have Wines by the Flight, Glass or bottle and you can also buy wine to go. We enjoyed the 2004 Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Special Cuvee Napa, CA. which was big and bold and the 2006 Wild Rock Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, NZ. known as “The Infamous Goose” which was fruity and light. We enjoyed it so much that we bought four bottles of “The Infamous Goose” on our way out. We started our lunch with the velvety Potato and Green Garlic Soup with crisp parmesan crouton and olive oil. The Smoked Salmon served with warm potato cakes and caper vinaigrette tossed frisee was also delicious.
The hearty portion of Steak Frites was very tender. This Grilled hangar steak was topped with herb salsa verde, a side of crisp frites and fronds of fresh Sausalito watercress. We saved room for dessert which was called Chocolate Milk and cookies. It was a Silky smooth milk chocolate Panna Cotta served with a trio of house-made cookies. It was subtle and not too sweet…just fabulous! We had Espresso which was the perfect finish to Executive Chef Jason R. Moniz’s global inspired small plates menu. Nectar is a great place to enjoy wines and great cuisine.
Nectar Wine Lounge & Restaurant
It was another lovely summer afternoon when we took a drive to Redwood City. We hadn’t been there in quite some time and found it to be thriving. There were new specialty stores and new restaurants. Mandaloun with its lovely décor and Executive Chef David Mann’s California Style Mediterranean cuisine have really enhanced the downtown dining scene. The weather was so nice that we opted to sit on their spacious patio. We enjoyed the flowers and the fountain and felt like we were on vacation! We started our dining experience with a new favorite wine. The 2006 Ferrari Carano Sonoma Fume Blanc was refreshing and paired perfectly with our lunch. Each glass of wine was served in an individual carafe, allowing the wine to breathe and providing us the ability to control our pour which we really liked! The appetizers and small plates were all quite fresh and tasty. We enjoyed the Little Moroccan Cigars Phyllo stuffed with chicken and Crispy Flatbread Zattar and roasted garlic hummus.
We also loved the Wood Baked Polenta and Bolognese as well as the Lamb Skewers, wrapped lavosh, watercress, roasted pepper cream cheese and charmoula. The Chicken Skewer, paprika, cumin, lemon, mint and yogurt was tasty too. Dessert was lovely, a Frog Hollow Farms Peach, local berries, Semifredo and Zabaglione. Mandaloun is a great place to enjoy wine and Mediterranean cuisine.
“Until we eat again…”
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